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View Full Version : My first Media Center PC...


Redeemed
12-15-07, 04:36 AM
Here is my delimma:

I've got an extremely good friend, and I'm building a computer as a Christmas gift for his family. Here are the specifications:

-AMD Athlon64 x2 6000+ (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103773)

-ASUS CrossHair nForce590 SLi (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131593)

-2GB SuperTalent DDR2 800 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820609027)

-Samsung 500GB SATA 3GB/s HDD (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152052)

-2x Samsung DVD/CD Burner (SATA) (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151154)

-HIS ATi Radeon HD3850 512MB (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161216)

-NZXT Nemesis Black ATX Mid-Tower (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146030)

-3x 120mm SilenX Case Fans (2x intake, 1x exhaust) (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835226013)

-OCZ GameXstream 600Watt quad-rail PSU (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341001)

Okay, I bought the mobo+cpu from DiscipleDOC, the RAM from Stncttr908, and the PSU from methimpikehoses- so don't think I'm paying full price for this AMD-based rig. With that said, my buddy is dead set on AMD. He is a self proclaimed AMD fanboy.

With that said, he also owns a business, has a wife, and 3 kids- he doesn't have the time to study computer hardware like I do. So in short he has had nothing but great experiences with AMD powered computers, so he tends to favor them only for that reason. Keeping that in mind, he is not a huge fan of ATi simply cause he's never used an ATi card.

Okay... getting to my point. He does game, rather frequently, but not like most of us. He usually games (LAN) with his two boys in titles like CS:S, Battle For Middle Earth and Battle For Middle Eart II, and C&C 3- that is about it. He doesn't play many other games honestly. Anyhow, he has his computer (soon to be this one I'm building) hooked up to his 42" LCD HDTV. He'd love to be able to enjoy 1080i in near everything he does. I know all the games he plays but C&C 3 do not support ws resolutions. No biggie for him. He doesn't care about AA and AF- but does usually crank the in-game settings to their max.

Sooo... my questions:

1.)Is there any way to get his computer to hook up to his TV and actually run the TV at 1920x1080? If so, how? One of the main reasons for me choosing the HIS 3850 is cause it is dual-slot for better cooling and since he wont be using any AA or AF it should keep up with the GT and GTX, but it also has a DVI to HDMI adapter- will that adapter allow him to run his desktop at 1920x1080?
2.)He watches a lot of movies, so I'd like to make this a media-center PC. Can you guys recommend me some good tv-tuner cards and remotes that are known to cope well with Windows Media Center?
3.)Lastly, will SP3 for XP include Windows Media Center, -or- is Windows Media Center available for download on any computer running XP SP2, -or- how reliable and solid an OS is WindowsXP Media Center Edition?

I have enough $$$ to purchase the remaining components now, but will probably wait till Monday as I want to think this over a little bit more. I want this PC to be his complete multi-media-center. I want it to game for him but also handle all of his other media needs such as being able to feed his digital cable through his computer and onto his big screen TV. I've never built nor setup such a system before though. I've tinkered with Media Center in Vista- but that's it, just tinkered.

Any advice you guys can give is greatly appreciated. :D

crainger
12-15-07, 06:58 AM
You have to buy the Media Centre Edition of XP. It doesn't come with SP3 and I don't think you can download it.

You can also use Vista Home Premium or Ultimate.

Q
12-15-07, 08:25 AM
I'd buy the official MS MCE remote (40), then the OEM copy of XP MCE ($120 last time I checked). As much as I"m not a huge fan of Vista, it's implementation of MCE is incredible. Crainger's advice would apply in that scenario.

http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_hvr1800.html

I've got two of those in my HTPC box and they ROCK. I bought them when Vista wouldn't play right with a Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-150 and an ATI based Theater 550 Pro that did fine together under XP MCE. I'm not sure if its one of the cards in Vista, or a combination of the both, but both of those are great (cheap, too) cards for an XP MCE.

I've got my TV hooked up through DVI, so I don't think I can help you there. However, I've been building PC based DVR's for about five years now, so if I can help you with any of the kinks (trust me, there will be a few), just let me know.

Redeemed
12-15-07, 02:16 PM
I'd buy the official MS MCE remote (40), then the OEM copy of XP MCE ($120 last time I checked). As much as I"m not a huge fan of Vista, it's implementation of MCE is incredible. Crainger's advice would apply in that scenario.

http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_hvr1800.html

I've got two of those in my HTPC box and they ROCK. I bought them when Vista wouldn't play right with a Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-150 and an ATI based Theater 550 Pro that did fine together under XP MCE. I'm not sure if its one of the cards in Vista, or a combination of the both, but both of those are great (cheap, too) cards for an XP MCE.

I've got my TV hooked up through DVI, so I don't think I can help you there. However, I've been building PC based DVR's for about five years now, so if I can help you with any of the kinks (trust me, there will be a few), just let me know.

Hey, thanks guys. I don't think I'll get him a TV-Tuner after all. He already has a DVR and he's already paid for a 2-yr subscription with Dish for HD channels and what not. I'll just get him that 3850 and Vista Ultimate. Should work quite nicely for what he'd need.

Now, will that 3850 using the DVI-to-HDMI allow him to run his desktop and any ws-compatible apps at 1920x1080?

Redeemed
12-15-07, 03:12 PM
Well, just stumbled upon a gem! I believe I stated this in the first post, but my buddy prefers video cards that are using an nVidia GPU. I was going to get him that 3850 cause the price was awesome but also cause it has the DVI to HDMI adapter. I'm wanting him to be able to run at his tv's 1920x1080 without issue and I was hoping that adapter would allow such.

Now he already bought a DVI to HDMI adapter for his current rig and it just didn't cope well with his tv. He is currently using straight DVI but cannot get the desktop (or any ws compatible apps for that matter) to play at 1920 x 1080.

Anyhow, I found this MSI 8600GTS (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127302) for less than the 3850 and it actually has an HDMI port! This way he could go straight HDMI out on the video card to the HDMI in on his TV for the full 1920 x 1080 picture. :D

Okay, I still want to make sure that it'll work like that. Should he be able to get the full 1920 x 1080 from that HDMI port?

einstein_314
12-15-07, 04:55 PM
Yup, should have no problems running his TV at 1080p. I'm running a 8800gts with a DVI -> HDMI cable into my TV. No problems at all. Detects it just like it would a monitor.

You say he is now running DVI into his TV and it doesn't work properly? That definately seems weird...

Redeemed
12-15-07, 05:16 PM
Yup, should have no problems running his TV at 1080p. I'm running a 8800gts with a DVI -> HDMI cable into my TV. No problems at all. Detects it just like it would a monitor.

You say he is now running DVI into his TV and it doesn't work properly? That definately seems weird...

Well, his TV only supports 1080i. Might that be why? Either way he is limited to some wierd 13-something X something. :p He's tried the DVI to HDMI adapter with no go. Anyhow, hoping that actually having an HDMI out should solve that problem. :D

einstein_314
12-15-07, 05:50 PM
Hmm, yeah that might be why he's having problems. I don't know if having a DVI out will fix that problem though...seeing as HDMI is exactly the same as DVi...just with audio attached to it. What does he have now for a video card?

Ok here's an idea, I'm going to go try and send 1080i to my HDTV and see what happens. I'll report back ASAP :thumbsup:

EDIT: ok yeah 1080i works fine for me. In the nVidia drivers you just pick 1080i and voila, it works.

Redeemed
12-15-07, 08:52 PM
Hmm, yeah that might be why he's having problems. I don't know if having a DVI out will fix that problem though...seeing as HDMI is exactly the same as DVi...just with audio attached to it. What does he have now for a video card?

Ok here's an idea, I'm going to go try and send 1080i to my HDTV and see what happens. I'll report back ASAP :thumbsup:

EDIT: ok yeah 1080i works fine for me. In the nVidia drivers you just pick 1080i and voila, it works.

Honestly I've not tweaked with his setup, so I do not know what he might be doing wrong. :p Probably a simple fix.

Anyhow, he is using dual 6600GTs with an 3500+.

Redeemed
12-22-07, 04:11 AM
Quick update. Rig is essentially assembled. I'm now just doing some "fine tuning". Later today I'll deal with the cable management and what-not. Once it is all said and done I'll report back with some picks of the final product. No, I didn't take any pictures of the building-process. :(

I must say, I'm almost envious of this setup. It is nearly as responsive as my rig. But I am running Vista Ultimate x64 with 4Gb of RAM while he's running Vista HP x32 with 2Gb RAM... so I'd imagine that would be why my compute is a bit snappier.

I'm going to buy him another 2GB ASAP and try to talk him into allowing me to throw the 64-bit edition of HP on his computer.

As for the parts, everything remained the same as in the OP except I bought that MSI 8600GTS instead of the 3850, and didn't buy him a TV-Tuner. I'll wait untill his subscription runs out with his satellite company before I worry about that as his subscription is for 2 years. :p By then I'm sure the next version of Windows will be on the horizon and TV-Tuners would have progressed significantly.